Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Nine: "The Guns of Navarone"

An old-fashioned popcorn movie with a sense of wonder about it.

Dismissed as a straightforward action-adventure, there's more going on in it.

The movie's wonderful prologue, which speaks of the "gods and demi-gods" of ancient Greece, reveals this conscious attempt to create a modern-day myth, yet no one noticed.

We're cast quickly into myth, as a team of heroes is formed during WWII and sent on a seemingly impossible mission to destroy monsters: two gigantic German guns which rain fire on all around them. Few movies have so played with the forces of nature, as the band of commandos survive a sea storm; climb unscaleable cliffs; journey through tunnels and across snow-covered mountains on the way to their goal, which once glimpsed at the outset stand close in the back of our minds until presented again with all their terrible power. At the end the surviving heroes are thrown back into the sea from whence they came, come full circle, memories playing in their heads of their comrades and experience.

This is a movie not about ridiculous fantasy, but about myth; the creation of myth. The fiery guns are fantastic but very real at the same time, which adds to their strength as symbols. We know while viewing the action that such adventures, such heroics, DID happen, in the recent past. Which makes the heroics great and believable. No goofy CGI monsters, buff narcissistic gym-rats, or camera-trick hobbits, sorry.

Note: crucially important for the impact of "Guns" is the musical score by Dmitri Tiomkin. Motion pictures are a combination of arts. I rate the value of music as an ingredient in film very highly-- which is why with at least five of these choices, the film music is among the best ever written. Which is the case with the next selection. . . .

p.s. The remaining eight selections will be presented at my newest blog,
www.happyamericaliterature.blogspot.com

2 comments:

FDW said...

Fine. Nice review. Tho we had to as kids watch it on TV because it was a big spectac- ula-r premier of it on the small screen.I think we also saw it one Saturday matinee in the Plains Theater for a quarter for lack of anything else because my aunt Jean's pigs in the blanket weren't gonna be ready until later that evening.......

I'd perfer to see "Where Eagles Dare" even now.

K.I.N.G. Wenclas said...

In some ways the original ULA was modeled after this movie. I wanted an elite commando team to "blow up" the literary establishment.
Unfortunately, as in the movie, any such team depends on trust, commitment, and loyalty.
***********************
Another influence was The Iliad. Too bad ULAers themselves didn't recall the story of how the Greeks pissed-off their best warrior. . . .